With baseball season in full swing and more than nine professional sports teams in the area, it’s hard not to get excited about sports in New York. But beyond cheering on our favorite teams, sports give way to lessons that can also guide winning PR programs.
1. “It starts with complete command of the fundamentals.” – Jesse Owens
From little league to the Olympics, athletes are trained to master the basics of their sport. An unwavering command of the fundamentals is just as important for success in PR.
Pitching, writing and managing media inquiries serve as the building blocks for a winning program. No matter how well laid out a communication plan may be, without the ability to execute the basics; a PR program is destined to fail.
2. “Nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.” – Joe Namath
Captains on the field are often defined by their ability to set their team on a path toward victory. Similarly, a strong PR program also requires a defined leader.
Is a program intended to increase awareness? Fortify a reputation? Provide brand differentiation? PR programs should offer a powerful vision, as well as turn-by-turn directions on how to realize it.
3. “The best defense is a good offense.” – Vince Lombardi
Within a locker-room, there is often a rivalry between the offensive and defensive units. But winning teams also realize that these groups are inseparable- something PR programs should keep in mind while developing campaigns.
An offensive communications program is often the best countermeasure in a crisis but too often, crisis plans are prepared without thinking about how to be proactive. Companies then wonder why they are unable to deliver a positive narrative from a defensive standpoint. Having an offensive approach on defense allows a brand to define itself before others do.
4. “All a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.” – John Madden
In football, a “prevent defense” is designed to stop long touchdown passes by allowing only small advances by the offense. However, this “play it safe” approach often backfires- as the offense steadily marches downfield, they can exploit holes left open by the defense. Similarly, passive PR programs needlessly put brands at significant risk when they do not take into account how quickly reputational fortunes can change.
Communication programs must never rest on past success. They should evolve to ensure relevancy. PR programs must continually generate fresh ideas that deliver thoughtful, innovative and insightful perspectives.
At first blush, a locker room and a corporate conference room may seem like dramatically different worlds. But if we look beyond the obvious, several key lessons emerge that, if embraced, can produce winning PR programs.